May 17, 2008

USAID and Cyclone Nargis

"In times of crises, politics, ideology, and rule are considered peripheral. It matters little which nation is affected, if it is deemed that the nation cannot - even with good intentions - provide for its people, then a helping hand is extended. Burma’s Generals have little time for America or Americans but for the U.S., the compelling need to provide humanitarian assistance to a shattered populace transcends this."

Without the U.S. there’d be hell to pay, wrote Janet Albrechtsen; a columnist with The Australian reminding us that we need, "acknowledge the scorecard: the full spectrum of US hegemony, from its brute military muscle to the soft seduction of American ideas, has been an overwhelming force for good."

That was last year; now recall my words in a September 2007 post about her piece:

“The U.S. is increasingly dealing with a challenging world. At a time where countries as China, India, Russia and Iran are vying for regional predominance, where competition between liberalism and absolutism has re-ignited, where and nations are once again, gradually lining up along ideological lines, where the rift between tradition and modernity (Islamic fundamentalism verses modern secularism) is widening, and finally when anti-Americanism is pronounced; it was timely to come across a common sense blog post/opinion in yesterdays national papers.”

Well, Janet has generated another of those timely common sense blog post/opinion pieces, this time prompting us to consider that, “Whenever a serious crisis erupts somewhere, our dependence on the US becomes obvious, and many hate the US because of it. That the hatred is irrational is beside the point … We can denounce the Yanks for being Muslim-hating flouters of international law while demanding the US rescue Bosnian Muslims from Serbia without UN authority. We can be disgusted by crass American materialism and ridiculous stockpiling of worldly goods yet also be the first to demand material help from the US when disaster strikes. “

The article fittingly titled, Credit where its due, draws our attention to Burma in the aftermath of the terrible devastation and loss of life caused by cyclone Nargis.

As is consistently the case, America remains ever willing to offer assistance on a massive scale, be it by land, sea, or air following a natural disaster irrespective of ruling regimes and governance. In times of crises, politics, ideology, and rule are considered peripheral. It matters little which nation is affected, if it is deemed that the nation cannot - even with good intentions - provide for its people, then a helping hand is extended. Burma’s Generals have little time for America or Americans but for the U.S., the compelling need to provide humanitarian assistance to a shattered populace transcends this.

In response to the many anti American chants and those who applaud the rise of, for example China as a threat to the former, Albrechtsen notes, “The US has had isolationist periods in the past and it must be enormously tempted sometimes to have another one soon.” which is why its critics should pause and consider the consequences of an isolationist America.

Read the article here, and Courtney’s take is here

One final thought, the saga is beginning to raise questions, with Burma’s Generals effectively stalling on aid and there continuing refusal to allow foreign rescue experts in, some including France’s Ambassador to the U.N, Jean Maurice Ripert, have suggested that the Burmese Government was, “on the verge of committing crime a crime against humanity”. Questions raised relate to a humanitarian duty to take action that is more robust. If circumstances are extreme, is regime change resulting from forcible intervention appropriate? It’s a critical step but one already one being referenced.

Afterword: It was announced earlier this week that Australia would add a further $22 million in aid for the victims of Cyclone Nargis, bringing the total Australia aid contribution to $25 million. The international community’s willingness to assist the Burmese people has is underlined by the significant increase in the United Kingdom’s offer of assistance, to an overall commitment of $35m, the largest single commitment to date ahead of Australia’s $25m. I think the U.S. commitment is presently $17.8m but expect this to rise ... Three cheers for Anglosphere!

Aid commitments to Burma made by major donors (in millions) as at May 15: $35m Britain, $25m Australia AUSAID, $17.8m United States ... USAID (expected to rise), 10m Japan, $9.8m Germany, and $2m Canada

Now we all we need do is to get the aid through to those in need, easier said than done. The humanitarian crisis in Burma is a striking example of state failure among the developing world's authoritarian regimes.

IMPORTANT LINKS

Bush may consider Burma intervention - urged by both sides of the aisle...
World is turning up the heat - "This is inhuman. We have an intolerable situation..."

Over to you

2 comments:

Jungle Mom said...

In spite of all our failures, our country is the most generous of all people, which is what makes us so different from so many others. God Bless America!!

Tapline said...

Otto, as always an outstanding well researched post....And the answer is........???? Once disease sets in and it will. As with everything else coming from that country. Only force from the military. No senseable answere. I unserstand the military is hording some of the food already in country.....Bad situation....